September 18, 2006

Binturongs vs. TCM

The binturong is sadly a prime target for poachers due to the continued use of traditional medicine (TCM) in China.

According to Mindy Stinner, executive director of the Conservator's Center,
They are endangered in large part because rainforest locals in Southeast Asia, who used to hunt them only for food, have found an ever-increasing profit in selling them to those who promote the Chinese medicine trade. Their penis bones, ingested as a powder or cooked into food, are said to help men stay virile and to help produce male children. Also threatening to their numbers in the wild is a loss of habitat due to deforestation. At the open markets in Laos they cost around the equivalent of three US dollars. As of 1998, in the exotic pet trade in the US, a young, breedable, healthy individual runs $1500-2500.

Bints are also poached for their scent glands, for use in perfumes. They are being run out of a few areas, recognized by the IUCN. Luckily, there are a few sound conservation efforts in place to protect the animal, including the Thai Society for the Conservation of Wild Animals, the Minnesota Zoo, and WCS India.

Photo by topend.

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